With all the different variations of Batman, it is understandable to be fatigued over the Caped Crusader. It seems that every five to ten years, a new actor takes on the cape and cowl in a set-up that feels all-too familiar; Bruce Wayne dressing up as Batman taking on baddies wreaking havoc on the city of Gotham while dealing with his own personal issues. Yes, the formula feels the same, yet, Matt Reeves’ take on The Batman is a dark, gritty, almost-too real approach that doesn’t seem to match the cinematic spectacle of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but in its own right serves as a solid detective-thriller which ditches the same plot threads we have heard before in favor of a sinister, politically-relevant story akin to David Fincher’s Se7en. with the epicness of a superhero movie.
Portraying the Caped Crusader this time around is Robert Pattinson, who spends so much time in the Batsuit that you would even forget that he is there; not that Pattinson is a bad actor. In fact, since his tenure as Edward Cullen in Twilight, he has taken more serious roles in films like The Rover, Good Time, and The Lighthouse in order to distance himself from the series that put him in the spotlight, which for the most part, worked in his favor as a respectable actor. As The Batman, Pattinson adds a sense of mystery and grit while walking through the streets of Gotham with Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), picking up clues and solving cases left behind by The Riddler (Paul Dano), who is portrayed as less of a goofy jokester and more of a sociopath reminiscent of the Zodiac Killer if he were to exist in the modern day. Not much of his appearance is seen, except for a mask and videos posted online, making his demeanor that much terrifying. When he does get revealed, a whole sinister, crazed side is seen striking fear in our hearts and solidifying Dano’s best performance in years.
Joining the cast of The Batman are Andy Serkis as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, who only shows up in brief appearances, yet adds a calm to Wayne’s storm, Zoe Kravitz as cat burglar, Selina Kyle, who has some personal vendettas of her own, one even involving crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and a nearly unrecognizable Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. Penguin. With the exception of Kravitz as Kyle (She has voiced the character in The Lego Batman Movie), the cast themselves seemed questionable from the start, yet Reeves has brought out the best of what each actor brings to their roles, as they show what they can do throughout the majority of The Batman.
The most common criticism I have heard from The Batman is how there is just not enough Bruce Wayne. While this may be true since its focus is on Batman’s detective years, I thought there was a healthy amount of Wayne to balance out the Bat. As Wayne, Pattinson embodies a youthful, aristocratic appearance that I can picture in a young Bruce Wayne. You can argue over who the best Batman/Bruce Wayne is, and while I do favor Micheal Keaton as both sides, it is clear to me that Pattinson is Bruce Wayne!
Complimenting The Batman‘s style is a mixture of dark shadows, dim city lights, and beautiful sunsets courtesy of Greg Fraser’s cinematography with a bombastic score by Michael Giacchino setting the key tones in a way that reminds me of John Williams’ “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back. Epic, triumphant, and dark are ways that I can describe its motif. It would be remiss of the Academy to not give Giacchino a nomination or win for such a score that evoked such feeling.
Throughout The Batman, I felt riveted. It is a damn good film, if not, a great film. One could say that it is so great that it did not even know how (or when) to end. The Batman has a runtime of nearly three hours, which pushes past Spider-Man: No Way Home, but not enough to rival Avengers: Endgame, though it feels more on par with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with its multiple endings. Needless to say, I almost felt restless near its end; coming this close to checking my watch. Through it all, The Batman is worthy of ranking as one of the greats, and maybe one of the best movies in the Batman franchise.